Embracing the Wabi-Sabi

Embracing the Wabi-Sabi: The Art of Imperfection in School Development Plans

The Joy of Creating a School Development Plans 

I enjoy developing school development plans, but then again, who wouldn't? The excitement of a blank white sheet waiting to be filled with the next meticulously planned course of action. It is a chore that I can get lost in, like putting together a jigsaw puzzle: gathering all the pieces and figuring out where they should go.

The Reality of Life and Planning

However, life is not a blank canvas. Events such as global pandemics can cause us to rethink our plans. Staffing issues, leveling up, assessment, lockdown, and school closures have all had a significant impact on strategic planning.

Wabi-Sabi: Embracing the Flawed

Wabi Sabi, a Japanese philosophy, is the art of embracing the flawed. Its three principles state that nothing lasts, nothing is ever finished, and nothing is perfect. Many headteachers are perfectionists, and this realisation that perfection is unattainable can be both frightening and liberating.

Perfectionism and Burnout

Persistent yearning for, or pursuit of, perfection in any area of life is stressful and often ends in disappointment. According to a 2018 study, unhealthy perfectionism can increase the risk of burnout among teachers.

Appreciating the Journey

So, should we abandon school development plans? No, a plan is a map that shows you how to get from where you are now to where you want to be. The important thing is to appreciate the journey, flaws and all, and celebrate accomplishments rather than dwelling on what has not been achieved.

The Importance of Wabi-Sabi

Wabi-Sabi is crucial to remember since it does not advise us not to strive our hardest; rather, it reminds us that things do not have to be perfect to be worthwhile. Another advantage of never quite executing the perfect plan is the tantalising prospect of what you could accomplish if you did.


Embracing the Wabi-Sabi philosophy in school development plans allows us to appreciate the journey, learn from our imperfections, and reduce the stress that comes with seeking perfection. Keep returning to that plain white page and enjoy the process, knowing that perfection is not the ultimate goal.


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